Opinion

Editorials

Berkeley Merchants Blame Sitters for their Woes

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday April 06, 2011 - 10:59:00 AM

Do you love love love Cheese Board pizza? Is your idea of heaven standing in line for a slice and then eating it picnic-style with friends on the grassy strip down the middle of North Shattuck in what’s called “The Gourmet Ghetto” in the New York Times Style Section?

Well, think again, because the clueless merchants of North Shattuck are scheming to make it illegal.

Or maybe it’s not actually you and your lunch buds that they’re out to get, but if equal protection is still the law of the land you’ll have to be on the radar too if they have their way.

(Please note: we do NOT include the Cheese Board among the clueless, but some of their neighbors on the other hand…) -more-


Cartoons

Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Tuesday April 05, 2011 - 03:47:00 PM

Public Comment

New: Retail Vacancy Fee Is Best for Businesses

By Carol Denney
Wednesday April 06, 2011 - 08:42:00 PM



In 1997 Berkeley repealed its ordinance prohibiting sitting and panhandling after an ACLU challenge. But the Downtown Berkeley Association, which initiated the ordinance, never stopped pining for some way to clear the streets of homeless people and panhandlers, whom they blame for a decline in retail sales, and is currently lobbying for an anti-sitting law similar to San Francisco’s.

Berkeley has panhandlers. But it also has hundreds of empty storefronts owned by landlords reluctant to rent at lower commercial rates, empty storefronts which burden a once-vibrant downtown. Commercial leases tend to be long, so locking into even three years at a lower rate is less appealing than taking a tax write-off for the previous, higher rate. Even a business like Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh Food, which won entrepreneur of the year and design awards, cited the inflexibility of the rental rate as the reason it closed in December after two and a half years. -more-


New: The Deceptive Tactics of BRT Supporters

By Doug Buckwald
Wednesday April 06, 2011 - 08:48:00 PM

Two weeks ago, the Berkeley Daily Planet published a commentary by Charles Siegel entitled, “BRT, NIMBYs, and the New York Times” (March 22, 2011). It is helpful that Mr. Siegel offered readers such an illustrative example of how BRT supporters have distorted the facts in an attempt to discredit BRT opponents in Berkeley. Their arguments could be regarded as merely humorous if they had not been used in such a vicious and manipulative manner during the campaign for BRT. And it certainly is clear from Siegel’s writing why he and other BRT zealots repeatedly refused offers to debate this issue in public. They would have been humiliated if they had done so. -more-


Walkabilty: Should Oakland Let Safeway Build Bigger at College and Claremont?

Jerome Buttrick, AIA, LEED AP BUTTRICK WONG Architects
Tuesday April 05, 2011 - 03:51:00 PM

I would like to thank Mayor Quan for reaching out to the various Oakland communities to hear what is on our minds and to help set her agenda. There is no doubt that there are many areas Oakland needs work on, including improving our school system, strengthening our police force and filling potholes. These all need attention and we feel those needs dearly, every day.

Less immediate but equally important to all of us, is the design of our small commercial streets and how live-able walking streets are made, preserved and enhanced. In North Oakland we have several streets and neighborhoods that bustle during the day and into the evening — I am speaking of Piedmont Avenue, Temescal, and College Avenue. It is in our small-neighborhood, vital interest to protect these areas and make sure that they continue to function as the local hubs that they are. People are drawn to them for their liveliness and vitality. Let there be no doubt —these are not shopping malls—these are real, living, small neighborhood places, that are fantastic to the tax roll and foster entrepreneurship. -more-


Sacramento Community Post Office Will Close

By Stevanne Auerbach
Wednesday April 06, 2011 - 02:36:00 PM

Dear Berkeley Neighbors:

We tried to save our local community post office on Sacramento St over the past two years. -more-


Pepper Spray Times

Grace Underpressure
Tuesday April 05, 2011 - 04:06:00 PM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available. -more-


Kaiser Rules, or NLRB Law? An Appeal to Overturn the Kaiser Election

by Steve Early, Ellen David Friedman, Paul Rockwell, Cal Winslow
Tuesday April 05, 2011 - 04:25:00 PM

Throughout the United States, pro-labor activists are beginning to realize that the right to collective bargaining—currently under assault—is intertwined with the right of employees to choose their union, free from fear and intimidation.

That’s why a long-overdue trial is taking place in the NLRB hearing room in downtown Oakland, where the Kaiser Permanente union election (October 7, 2010), the largest private-sector election in 70 years, faces a well-documented challenge from NUHW (National Union of Healthcare Workers). -more-


A Call for On-Air Fairness at KPFA

By Rob Browning
Tuesday April 05, 2011 - 03:25:00 PM

The current tempest at KPFA is deeply troubling to those of us who value independent radio journalism. And it is confusing because so much of what we read and hear seems so vitriolic and biased. The following petition is a call for fairness on KPFA's air. Please read this petition, and if it seems fair to you please sign it: -more-


In Commemoration of Cesar Chavez--a shot across the bow for immigrants rights to health care in CCCC!!

By Mark Sapir, M.D., M.P.H.
Wednesday April 06, 2011 - 01:34:00 PM

Today, Yesterday, April 5, 2011, the Contra Costa County, CA Board of Supervisors conducted their 18th annual commemoration of the life and work of Cesar E. Chavez founder of the United Farm Workers Union. In response, a group of 15 representing the Richmond Progressive Alliance, doctors and other staff at the Contra Costa County Public Clinic system and the Health Care Action Team-East Bay let the Board know that their decision in 2009 excluding undocumented immigrants from public clinics must be reconsidered, is unacceptable, stands in contradiction to their honoring Cesar Chavez and shall not stand. -more-


Time for Tax Justice

By David Leeper
Wednesday April 06, 2011 - 01:58:00 PM

In this time of budget crises we are hearing increasing calls to tax the rich. Working people paying the cost of our wars with both their lives and their taxes are outraged that corporations like General Electric, with huge profits, pay nothing toward the many government services which allow them to make so much money. -more-